In addition to chemotherapy, cancer sufferers undergoing endocrine treatment have been warned they should also expect hair loss. We look closer.
Hair Loss During Chemotherapy
The often dramatic hair loss that accompanies chemotherapy treatment is usually the first visible sign of the sickness. The emotional effects on the patient can be dramatic, indeed for some the prospect is too terrible to consider and the offer of therapy is declined. It has also been cited that some 8% of women who undergo chemotherapy would, in hindsight, have preferred to keep their hair.
There is no cure for chemo induced hair loss although some patients will regrow hair naturally in time. The recent introduction of scalp cooling caps has given an option during treatment that reduces the loss for some. Read more about them here.
Usually in the form of tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitor, endocrine therapies have made a huge difference in cancer care – In the words of Mario Lacouture MD, senior author on the study, “There are tens of thousands of breast cancer survivors on endocrine therapies, and the remarkable improvements in patient survival that have been achieved through their care have led to patients now being concerned about quality of life issues, like partial hair loss.”
His team looked back at 112 women who had endocrine therapy and who had no history of alopecia (nor any other scalp condition). While they found that 100% of the patients developed hair loss only 8% of those developed what his team refer to as grade 2 alopecia.. it is not the hair loss scale we are familiar with but basically means that you are classified grade 2 if you lose more than 50% of your hair.
Dr Lacouture’s team noted, unsurprisingly maybe, that the negative psychological effects of hair loss were present even if the hair loss was grade 1.
HIS Hair Clinic
The good news for endocrine patients is that 80% of them treated with topical minoxidil showed improvement… though their study did not look at the effect of starting minoxidil prior to treatment.
Those 8% of women who, having undergone treatment and lost their hair, would turn back time and avoid the treatment are a clear sign that this is a real problem and worthy of attention.
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